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Jed Boal ReportingUtah Power wants to raise rates that would hit hardest for people who use a lot of electricity, but we'd all end up paying more.
The utility says it needs to raise rates to more accurately reflect what it costs them to get the power to you. Utah Power says the cost of transmitting power to your home is rising, so you'll pay the price. The utility wants to raise revenue 125-million dollars annually to cover its rising costs for doing business, and expanding and maintaining infrastructure across the state.
Dave Eskelsen, Utah Power: “Those need to be reflected in the rates the customers pay and that's why periodically we go in for a rate adjustment, and that's what we're doing now."
Bills would rise between 10 and 30 percent. The new three-tiered rate structure for the summer months would charge the highest rates for those who use the most power, customers who use central air conditioning for example.
The average home uses about 700 kilowatt hours per month, and will see an average increase of about 5 dollars per billing period. But higher increases can kick in if usage exceeds 1000 kilowatt hours a month, which could happen during peak demand season. Peak power is the most expensive for Utah Power to generate or buy.
Dave Eskelsen, Utah Power: “For most customers, the most they'll see is an increase between nine and ten percent, and that's about four or five dollars a month based on typical use."
The rates would likely encourage conservation among those who use the highest amount of energy in their homes. But, a utility advocate says it doesn't do a lot to help people who have a hard time paying their energy bills.
Jeff Fox, Crossroads Urban Center: “It's unfair to those people who can't afford to purchase new energy efficient appliances, like a more efficient air conditioning system."
The utilities analyst would like to see discounts and incentive programs for people who can't afford those new energy efficient appliances. The Public Service Commission will hold hearings in January and February. The rate hike will likely take effect April First.
Utah Power still has among the lowest rates in the country, but more rate hikes should be on the way in the years ahead to pay for federally-mandated upgrades to the system.